Somehow, even though lettuce is available throughout the year, I rarely have it in winter (while I can have prepare a green salad sometimes every other day in the summer!). At this time of the year I often need more crunch, more texture in cold side-dishes and this one is a good example. This salad is based on one of the many versions of the Polish salt-brined cucumber and leek salad, usually prepared during cold months. Vinegar-pickled cucumbers can be used here too, but I prefer salt-brined ones which are a typical source of vitamin C in the winter and have less “violent” flavours. The super light sauce is barely perceptible, but I think a good dose of freshly ground black pepper is an important taste improvement.
TIPS: Some people find eating raw onions or leek difficult. If it’s your case, after slicing it, sprinkle with salt, rub with your fingers and leave for about 15 minutes and then rinse. It should make it milder.
Salt-brined cucumber can be found in Polish, Russian or Ukrainian shops, but I regularly buy it also in Germany (in an organic shop), so look for it in organic shops too. The visual difference of the jar is that vinegar-pickled cucumber’s brine is clear while the salt brine is a bit muddy at the bottom and not perfectly clear.
If you cannot find salt-brined cucumber, you can use vinegar-pickled, but rather the milder ones which have a low vinegar content (more sugar and more water). I’m not sure if the amount shouldn’t be cut down in this case… it depends how strong they are.
If you have fresh dill or parsley, they suit this salad, but are not very important.
Since salt-brined cucumber is already salty, I don’t add any more salt, but you can add it of course to the sauce if you wish (or if you use vinegar-pickled cucumber).
Preparation: 10 minutes
Ingredients (serves two-three as a side-dish):
1 big apple (I prefer rather the tangier varieties)
1 medium leek (the white and light green part only)
3 big salt-brined cucumbers
2 tablespoons good quality oil (it can be any neutrally tasting oil or olive oil)
1 tablespoons lemon juice or white wine/cider vinegar
freshly ground pepper
(fresh dill or parsley leaves)
Cut the leek in half lengthwise and then slice it.
If you have problems with raw leek, sprinkle with salt, rub with your fingers and leave for about 15 minutes. Rinse it. (It should make the taste milder.)
Cut up the remaining vegetables, coat in the sauce and season with freshly ground pepper just before serving.